Mini-stories: happy Purim!

Final story index:

#1: “Sukey and Toogood doing something super-domestic, and they get in a fight about how to do it, but then they have to make up”

#2:  “Sukey and Toogood at the end of a long day.”

#3: Ash and Rafe celebrating Purim

#4:In for a Penny costume party” (mostly about Percy and Louisa)

#5: Mrs. Khaleel’s job interview at the vicarage

Hi all! It’s Purim, maybe the best holiday ever? The story of Purim was one of my favorite stories as a kid, I made my mom tell it to me all the time. Vashti and Esther are bosses and hamantaschen are delicious. So to celebrate, I’m writing mini-stories!

Give me a prompt, related to any of the characters or to the world of any of my books, and I will write you at least 100 words of fiction in response.

I will do as many as I can tomorrow and Saturday…after that all bets are off.


14 thoughts on “Mini-stories: happy Purim!”

  1. Ooh! Sukey and Toogood doing something super-domestic, and they get in a fight about how to do it, but then they have to make up 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. My idea of “super domestic” is always cooking, so.
      Mr. Summers was still in London, and John had given the staff a brief holiday. Mrs. Khaleel was staying with the Makepeace girl, Thea and Larry were with their families, and Molly was spending the week at Lenfield—John had talked the housekeeper there into showing her the ropes at a larger household. Maria, to his surprise, had even agreed to look out for her.
      That meant he and Sukey were alone in the house tonight. She had insisted on cooking him dinner, like a good wife.
      John was realizing he’d never eaten her cooking. Still, it hardly mattered if she was bad at it; he was staying out of the kitchen so as not to see her methods, and he was quite capable of eating whatever she served him with a show of enthusiasm.
      She rang the dinner bell for him. They both thought that was funny. Dinner was laid out on the table: roasted beef, potatoes in dripping, a loaf of fresh bread from the bakery in Market Square and two bottles of cheap wine.
      “I could have brought up wine from the cellar,” he protested.
      “Yes, but then you would have worried about how much we were drinking,” she said, and he couldn’t deny it.
      “It smells wonderful.”
      “Who can ruin beef and potatoes?” she scoffed, and promptly began to slice the meat in the wrong direction.
      He manfully said nothing, even though it would be tough and—
      “What?” she demanded, dropping the knife with a clatter and leaving the carving fork sticking sadly out of the beef.
      “What do you mean?” he asked, trying to sound innocent.
      “You were making a correction face.”
      He buried his head in his hands. “I’m sorry! You’re just slicing it the wrong way.”
      “You should always slice beef against the grain, so you don’t have to chew the long bits…”
      She crossed her arms. “Show me.”
      So, feeling the world’s biggest arse but unable to stop himself, he pulled open the cut she’d begun to show her the long parallel strands of the meat. Then he sliced a hefty slice off the end of the roast and laid it on her plate. “It’s perfectly cooked,” he offered.
      She rolled her eyes. “I don’t know why I bother.”
      John felt lower than dirt. “I wasn’t going to say anything.”
      She sighed. “I know. I just wish I was…better at things.”
      “You’re wonderful at being a wife,” he said, flushing.
      She leaned back in her chair, face relaxing. “Oh, well, that.”
      “Much better than I am at being a husband.”
      She kicked him under the table. “Don’t fish.”
      “I’m not.”
      She grinned. “Well, there’s always time to learn.”
      Dinner was delicious, but dessert was even better.

    1. Here you go! 🙂
      It was Easter night. Mr. Summers’s eldest granddaughter was in town with her family, so on top of spending hours standing in the gallery in church, the vicarage staff had been running around after two small children and cooking four times as much as usual. Sukey had seen John grimace and press a hand to his lower back, once or twice, and she knew his feet must hurt as much as hers did.
      She was not heroine enough to draw him a bath. In fact, she wanted nothing more than to fall into bed at once. But then she would go to bed grumpy and wake up grumpy and likely be grumpy all day tomorrow too. So she laid a blanket over their chair to make it less hard, and carried a pot of hot pepperminty water into their room and dumped it into a basin. “Sit and put your feet in there,” she demanded, pointing. “I’ll be right back with a roll and some leftover ham.”
      John only argued a little, for show. Sukey thought that was progress.

    1. Ash and Rafe on Purim! Enjoy. 🙂
      Rafe appeared out of the crowd at the Duke’s Place Purim fair and slipped Ash a watch. It was a nice watch.
      “You’ve got a good eye, kid,” Ash said, and then was confounded by where in Faige’s gown to stash the booty. Oh, of course! He dropped it swiftly down the bodice, where it nestled between the carefully padded handkerchiefs that gave his chest the proper shape.
      Ash took disguise seriously, and he was proud of how much of a girl he’d managed to look despite wearing stays that didn’t fit. He’d spent at least an hour on lip salve, kohl, and rouge. Faige, on the other hand, had tied her red hair back in a queue at the last minute, pencilled on a crooked black mustache, and been satisfied. She looked handsome as the devil, but Ash still sighed inwardly.
      “But you don’t have to work today, Rafele,” he reminded his brother. “Remember why?”
      “Because the goyim tried to kill us all but we’re still here!” Rafe repeated promptly.
      “That’s right.” Ash tousled his brother’s hair. “Here’s another penny, do you want more hamantaschen or a ride on the roundabout?”
      A roundabout looks like this.
      Some info on Regency Purim fairs.

    1. Percy thought he looked rather dashing in his Cavalier hat and old-fashioned frock coat pilfered from the Loweston attics, even if “pirate” wouldn’t have been his first choice of costume left to himself.
      Leaving the steward’s room, he saw Martin passing in his livery. “Is Lady Louisa downstairs yet?”
      Martin rolled his eyes. “On time? Not on your life. I saw her going back up to the attics.”
      Percy hated keeping the coachman waiting, but secretly he was a little glad about the attics part—he could follow Louisa there without much impropriety, whereas if she was primping in her room, he couldn’t in good conscience go to her. He took the narrow attic stairs two at a time. “Louisa?”
      She knelt before an open trunk, swathed in an enormous black greatcoat, a bandana tied over her hair, gold hoops in her ears.
      “You’re going to be very warm at the party,” he remarked. “Also, I think we should talk to Nev again about setting a date for the wedding.”
      She turned towards him, and he realized her eyes were red and swollen.
      “What is it, darling?”
      She plumped down on her arse, defeated. “I…I was thinking that a pirate would have a gun, not just a sword, and then I remembered I saw Papa’s dueling pistols in this trunk last time I was here, and of course I didn’t want to wear them, but I couldn’t stop thinking about them, and they weren’t even the ones he was using, because he challenged Lord Chilcote and not the other way round, and I just…I wanted to…” Her face crumpled. He could see the pistols over her shoulder now. It was obscene how beautiful they were, the wood gleaming and the silver chased.
      “Oh, captain, come here.” Percy dropped down on the dusty floor beside her. She leaned her head on his shoulder. “Should I leave off my pistol?” he asked. He’d borrowed an unloaded horse pistol from the coachman, and stuck it through his sash. It was heavy and annoying and he wouldn’t mind in the least leaving it behind, even if it would make his costume rather incomprehensible at first glance.
      She shook her head. “It’s all right. I’m just being silly.”
      “Nothing wrong with a little silliness in moderation.”
      “I miss him.”
      “I know.” He couldn’t say So do I or He was a good father. “He loved you very much.”
      She shoved him. “Oh, don’t, I’m trying to stop crying.” With a great honking sniffle she rolled away to look him over. “You look wonderful, Mr. Garrett.” She grinned. “You were right, we should definitely talk to Nev again, and we won’t let him weasel out this time.”
      Sidenote: Nev and Penny are dressed as King Arthur and Guinevere. Sir Jasper’s heir is throwing the party. He hasn’t really got used to being rich yet, and he throws a LOT of parties.

  2. I loved what we saw of Mrs. Khaleel in Listen to the Moon, and I’d love to see something of her. Perhaps how she and Mr. Bearparke met for the first time? Or anything about her at all, really.

    1. Here’s Mr. Summers hiring her, I hope you like it!
      Noor had a favor to ask.
      She wasn’t looking forward to it. She hated asking for favors in general, and this was a big one. She had come to Lively St. Lemeston at fifteen as nursemaid to the Hawkins-Whitshed children, and she’d nursemaided them steadily ever since. She was twenty-seven now, the children all were off at school or had tutors and governesses, and the Hawkins-Whitsheds had given her a glowing letter of reference and shown her the door.
      She wanted to bring a gift with her, and it was late summer, the nicest part of the English year. She lingered by the river picking blackberries until the sun began to sink in the sky. Then she hurried with her basket to the vicarage, hoping she hadn’t put it off too late, and the vicar wouldn’t have finished hearing requests from parishioners and already be sitting down to dinner.
      The butler looked annoyed to see her. “I’ll take that to the kitchen for you,” he said, reaching for her basket.
      She clung to it more out of startlement than anything. “I wanted to give them to Mr. Summers.”
      The butler shrugged and led her to his study. “Miss Khaleel, sir.”
      Mr. Summers was scribbling away about something with his glasses on. He glanced at the clock before looking at her, and Noor hoped her hair had stayed up and that he couldn’t see the blackberry scratches on her arms. Allah be praised for dark skin. “Nora from the Hawkins-Whitsheds, isn’t it? What can I do for you?”
      She held out her basket, trying to look calm and collected. “That’s me, sir. I brought you some blackberries.”
      He plucked one from the pile and popped it in his mouth. “Ah!” he said with surprised pleasure. “Still warm from the sun. Thank you, my dear.”
      She set the basket down. “I was hoping you might know who’s looking for a nursemaid. I’ve got a letter of reference.”
      He chewed another blackberry or two, thinking. “How old are you? You won’t want to chase after babies much longer, and they’ll know it.”
      Calm and collected. “I’m only twenty-five,” she lied, even though the thought of raising another brood already made her want to sink with weariness.
      The vicar drummed his fingers on the table. “You helped in the Hawkins-Whitsheds’ kitchen, didn’t you? My cook is leaving, and I’m very fond of East Indian cooking. Did you make the mulligatawny they served me last month?”
      I made the pigeon pie that day too, she thought, annoyed. Fond of East Indian cooking, ha! He’d have an apoplexy if she served him anything with real pepper in it. But her heart began to pound anyway. A cook? She hadn’t helped much in the kitchen—only recently, with the last child more and more at his lessons. But she knew enough to manage meals for one man and a few servants until she could learn the rest. “I did, sir. I hope it pleased you.”
      “Make it tomorrow for my dinner,” he said, grinning like a skull. “If it’s as good as I remember, you’re hired.”
      She grinned back. “It will be better.”

  3. Oh! One of those “bid on a dinner/kiss” auctions used for a charity/political fundraiser! In a modern AU. With not just the gentlemen bidding on the ladies, but ERRYBODY gets a potential kiss from someone of any gender they fancy.
    Mostly I wanna see Sukey kiss her way through the town. Can you blame me?

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